In a move that isn't good news for Mumbai's commuters, the railway ministry is set to scale down the production of the new Bombardier-propelled local trains. The consequences of this decision will be that the wait for these trains will get longer, with the last of these 72 trains coming in 2017 – against the previous deadline of 2016. This also spells trouble for the Central Railway (CR), which is converting its lines between CST and Thane from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC).
Sources inform that the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai planned to make 24 of these Bombardier rakes by the end of March 2015. However, the railway board's insistence that ICF concentrate on some other projects means the new schedule will enable ICF to build anything between 10 to 12 trains for Mumbai by March-end. The number of Bombardier rakes being built at the ICF has been caught in this re-scheduling spree for some time now and the numbers have been significantly reduced. Another reason is that the two Bombardier rake currently undergoing trial in Mumbai have yet to receive requisite certifications from the Research Design Standards Organisation and therefore, ICF authorities thought it is best to go ahead with further production only after these certifications come in.
It becomes a knotty issue for the CR, which is trying to convert its lines from DC to AC between CST and Thane by August. The deadline, considered by many officials as overtly optimistic, will mean that after the conversion CR can run only those trains which are AC-compatible, like the Bombardier ones.
"Currently we need 10 rakes which run on Direct Current to take care of the services between CST and Thane. After conversion we will need to replace these 10 rakes. The agreement is that as Western Railway (WR) gets it pure AC Bombardier trains, it will hand over come of its rakes compatible to run on both AC and DC to us. If the supply of Bombardier rakes to WR slows down, then the transfer of these AC/DC rakes to us is also hit. This will, in turn, hit our CST-Thane schedule," said a senior CR official.
The latest production schedule of the ICF for the Bombardier rakes, according to officials, is such that by March 2015, 12 rakes will be built. Between April 2015 and March 2016, the ICF will be using its full capacity of four rakes a month to turn in 48 rakes. The remaining 10-12 rakes would come by the end of 2016 or in the first few months of 2017.